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The Live Food Factor: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet

by Susan Schenck, L.Ac., M.T.O.M. (acupuncture and oriental medicine)
2009, Awakenings Publications. P. O. Box 712423, San Diego, CA 92171-2423; 521 pages.

Review by Kirt Nieft
Copyright © 2011 by Kirt Nieft. All rights reserved.
Contact author for permission to republish.


Reviewed by Kirt Nieft


Review in a sentence fragment: An encyclopedic wannabe on how to act like you know really, really everything about being a raw vegan without really, really thinking.


This “independently published” book is divided into four sections and five appendices, with interesting front and back matter. At over 500 pages it appears to be the mother of all raw vegan books. And as such, I gotta take a look, even though I’m the last person that should be reviewing a raw vegan book. Oh well…


From the back cover, “Susan Schenck is now one of the Keepers of Knowledge of how the human species can…get back to the Paradise on Earth that our Creator intended.”


Just setting up the tone of the book for you with that blurb…


Section One: Raw Power: Reasons to go Raw


Chapter 1: Ten Reasons to Stop Cooking


21 pages extolling “the most incredible secret formula” that will “completely transform” you. It is argued that if you stop cooking you will have more pleasure, more leisure, more money, more beauty, more intelligence, more emotional balance, more spirituality, more weight loss, and attain Super Health. You will save the planet and live a long, long time.


We see that “a number of doctors have recognized the therapeutic value of raw diets”. Also, Eskimos were “extremely healthy until introduced to cooking”. Never mind that traditional Inuits ate primarily raw animal foods, raw vegans will sometimes “jump out of bed fully awake after three to six hours of sleep” and women will “find complete freedom from PMS...and for most, even their periods…dwindle down to one day” and won’t notice menopause unless they have blood tests. Herbert Shelton, Anne Wigmore, Dick Gregory, the Chinese medical classic, Nei Jing, Dr. Edward Howell, Arnold Ehret, and other raw evangelists are cited.


Flaxseed is good; pesticides are bad. Children are no longer hyper; you will maintain youthful skin. Remember, the word “war” spelled backwards is “raw”. And you will be really, really spiritual.


For instance, “Dr. Rudolf Steiner, PhD, founder of the Waldorf schools and anthroposophical medicine, taught that the outer light released into our bodies stimulates the release of inner light within us. The more light we absorb and assimilate, the more conscious we become. He felt that plant nutrition connects us to unrevealed cosmic forces, enabling us to go beyond the limitations of the mundane personality.”


Schenck adds later, “If enough people discover the best kept secret of raw food diet, there could be revolutionary changes in mass consciousness and the patterns of mankind’s thought-habits.”


Chapter 2: Rah, Rah, Raw! Raw Diet


56 pages of conversion lit with some pre- and post-raw photos, few of which will be more inspiring than the ads toward the back of Self or Shape magazine. Let’s just say that among less than some twenty people (way too long) there are those who are sure that a (kinda) raw vegan diet will ensure a “total life makeover” or “freedom from vices” or “thyroid removal no longer needed”.


Jessica tells about how her baby made her eat raw.


Chapter 3: Radically Raw: My Story


14 pages with photos of the author’s raw conversion story.


In short, a traditionally fed girl battles anorexia, allergies, asthma, bulimia, travels the world, then prozacs, loses her mother to kidney cancer, has Hepatitis C/interferon/ribaviron, and completes her role as health-seeker by doing a juice fast, colonics, finding a raw mentor on an internet mailing list (What About Bob?), going 95% raw and getting a lot better (“...most exciting was that I found an ecstasy from having an alkaline body”).



Section Two: Raw Proof: The Science


Chapter 4: A Paradigm Shift in our View of Disease and its Treatment


18 pages dropping names like Schopenhauer, Galileo, and Gabriel Cousens. In between many, many quotes from nutritional evangelists, Schenck clues the reader in on why diseases are not caused by germs, and how Herbert Shelton’s Natural Hygiene had this all figured out long ago, and a bunch of folks who considered themselves scientists did experiments which proved that cooked foods are bad.


Chapter 5: Cooked vs. Raw Experiments

Chapter 6: Man’s Fatal Chemistry Lab: The Great Cooked Food Experiment


37 pages, if you’re counting. These chapters try to be exhaustive in finding any and all “research” showing a benefit in vegetables, fruits, raw stuff, raw milk, nuts, raw vegetables, raw diet, etc. as shown by any “study” remotely related to same and cholesterol, cancer, bone mass, amenorrhea, fibromyalgia, and intelligence, as shown by “studies” on humans, cats, rats, mice, prisoners-of-war, athletes, monkeys, guinea pigs, calves, and adolescents. These “references” are from, take your pick: actual research journals, foreign research journals mentioned somewhere, and lots and lots of “studies” that are referred to in various raw propaganda books that have become part of the dogma of rawism by way of the old game of “telephone”. Schenck even refers to European instincto research and never mentions that it refers to raw animal foods as well!


This whole scientific proof section is an incredible mishmash of hodgepodge. Schenck seems to feel that if she does enough name-dropping the book becomes a carefully referenced work. A sampling, which is by no means complete: Hippocrates, Bruno Cromby, Pottenger and his cats, Christopher Columbus, T. Colin Campbell and his China Study, Edmond Szekely, Louis Pasteur (and, of course, Bechamp), Arnold Ehret, Florence Nightingale, etc. and those are the ones I recognize. I have to admit my ignorance of the pronouncements of Arthur Baker, Natalia Rose, David Hawkins, and Dr. Enderlein, who after 60 years of research concluded, “The most powerful diet for bringing a diseased biological terrain back to normal is live foods”.  Hey, that’s sounds interesting, but I can’t find any references in “The Live Food Factor”, so it’s off to Google. Disappointing.


Probably the best/worst of the lot in this section is titled, “The Roseburg Study”. Quote:


“Victoria Boutenko and Paul Fieber, Md. executed this study on the effects of raw, green smoothies on patients who has low levels of hydrochloric acid (HCl). Twenty-seven participants drank a quart of green smoothies prepared by Victoria’s husband every day for 30 days, adding it to their normal diet. Three participants dropped out; of the 24 remaining 66.7% showed vast improvement in their HCl levels. The doctor did not expect to see such dramatic results in such a short period of time.”


Those of you with low hydrochloric acid levels take note!


Scheck goes on to explain the many other beneficial effects of these green smoothies: improved sex life, reduced craving for bad food, better sleep and elimination. The text says I should read Boutenko’s book (Green for Life) or go to Appendix C.


So I search for the “Roseburg Study” in the index and am told to “See experiments and studies”. OK, I can do that. Indexed “experiments and studies” show over one hundred page entries (this must be a well-researched book!) and then subtexts “Roseburg Study, 143, 203, 317, 405”.  OK, let’s track this “Roseburg Study” down.


Page 143 is what I quoted from above.


Page 203 says that “...when participants added a quart of green smoothies to their daily diets, their cravings for cooked foods, including meat, sweets, alcohol and processed chocolate, disappeared.” Whereupon they craved raw foods and replaced their meals with her husband’s green smoothies. Kinda like a raw SlimFast, no? And you can still crave unprocessed chocolate! For more information, see her book.


Page 317 talks about how raw veggies aren’t really hard to digest. Eating cooked foods has just reduced the “digestive fire”. Raw veggies might lead to diarrhea, which is a good detox. If you are over 40 you may do well to blend or juice your veggies as a transition to your journey to raw foodism: (See the Roseburg study in Chapter 5.)


Page 405 is in Appendix C. Now, at last, I will be privy to the raw scientific proof of green smoothies as prepared by Victoria’s husband. The smoothie pages start on 403 and lead up to 405, something of a bonanza!


Appendix C is entitled “Radical Branches of the Raw Food Movement”. Schenck refers to “The Green Smoothie Diet” as almost liquidarian. Hmmm, not really a transition diet then. Oh well.


Victoria’s family wasn’t experiencing Super Health on a raw diet. They were even acidic. She studied and found that raw fooders weren’t really mimicking a chimp’s diet. They had the half fruit part right (by volume–never mind), but ate too much fat in the form of avos, nuts, and seeds. Chimps eat lots of greens and fewer fats. Read:  “pith, bark, seeds, and insects or even–though rarely–small animals”.


Hmmm. Chimps didn’t have Vita-Mix blenders. No problem. Chimps chewed many hours every. Victoria says we just don’t have the time to chew all day. And she says Weston Price discovered we have damaged our jaws and chewing capacity through decades of eating soft processed foods.  (And he found no vegan cultures, but that is not mentioned.) Remember, Vita-Mix juicers aren’t really juicers, since they leave the fiber intact, if chopped up. And we need a lot of fiber.


Schenck says that Victoria sells a “jaw exerciser that compensates for the lack of chewing”. Dental problems on a liquid raw vegan diet? How could that be?  OK, back to Section Two…


I zoom in on this Green Smoothie Diet since it appears that Schenck is quite smitten with it over the other regimes described in her book. But worry not, Schenck does manage, early on in this scientific proof section, to fit in the following verbiage clarifying the science of raw proof or is it the scientific proof of rawism: “If you wish to have extra energy to commune with God at a higher spiritual level, this diet could be for you.”


Now, before I am taken as sacrilegious, sarcastic, and other bad s-words, I will say that many folks could do worse than to go on a raw green smoothie diet for as long as it takes to feel...ah,, no, I know, like Scheck says about her experimenting with Victoria’s liquid diet, “the feeling of ecstatic well-being from normalized alkalinity is astonishing.”


What do I mean to say here? I guess it’s that taking a break from cooked foods and/or commercial animal foods for a time wouldn’t hurt most people. Might even be a good thing. But to argue that this is humanity’s perfect diet, and summarily support the crusade to get everyone to become a raw vegan for the rest of their lives, even to the point of eating green smoothies only—these are not useful ideas.


Long term raw vegan? What’s the problem? Well, read the rest of this website.


Chapter 7: The Raw Ingredients


13 pages. Here Schenck details a raw reductionist approach to food


Conventional nutrients.

·        Vitamins (cooking destroys them)

·        Minerals (pills don’t count)

·        Fatty acids (cooking destroys them)


Less conventional nutrients.

·        Enzymes (the holy grail of rawism; cooking destroys them)

·        Phytochemicals (Dr. James Howenstine has written a book about this)

·        Hormones (wheatgrass has a plant hormone that kills cancer in animals and Pottenger found that valuable hormones in meat are destroyed by heat)

·        Water (if you eat fruit, which has the best “electrified” water, you don’t need any more regular water, and certainly not lower quality cooked water).


Even less conventional nutrients.

·        Electrons (live foods are a good source of electrons, especially flaxseed)

·        Oxygen (chlorophyll is like hemoglobin thus it feeds oxygen to your breathing/exercising body)

·        Biophotons (Dr. Fritz Popp says these are good, a highly coherent biological laser light),

·        Bioelectricity (human cells work like an alkaline battery and the number of biophotons in a food is important)

·        Friendly bacteria (cooking destroys them; without which you can get a yeast infection and/or a diseased colon)




Section Three: Raw Pioneers: History & Leaders


Chapter 8: A Brief History of the Raw Food Movement


8 pages that take the reader from our pre-fire ancestors to the addiction of cooking and then the folks who rediscovered rawness. Jesus was a raw vegan; Pythagorus was a fruitarian; yogis were hip to raw foods. Max Bircher-Benner, Mormons, Max Gersen, Albert Schweitzer, Arnold Ehret, and other Germans and Iranians like raw foods.


Did you know that, “in certain Asian countries, condemned prisoners were executed by giving them nothing to eat except cooked meat!”? And that, “they usually died within 30 days”?


Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas lead to Brian Clements. Paul Bragg and Edmond Szekely cure people with raw foods too. Herbert Shelton spawns lots of progeny: T.C Fry, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, etc. etc. All these forward thinking folks laid the raw foundation and some were even persecuted by the government.


Chapter 9: Modern-Day Leaders of the Raw Food Movement


12 pages surveying all the wonderful folks proselytizing raw vegan foods today. As in the previous chapter, Schenck presents the positive, and everything sounds pretty glorious. Reading about the Nature’s First Law boys and Reverend George Malkmus among others, one would never guess that there was anything controversial going on at all with the various personalities. I suspect Schenck is simply trying to give only the best spin to these folks, stay positive, and avoid appearing judgmental. By giving everyone a free ride, Schenck ends up with a book bordering on simple propaganda. For example, she surely knows that the book, Nature’s First Law, is nearly word-for-word plagiarism of the Iranian Hovannessian’s book, Raw Eating, a book she details in the previous chapter. To deliberately ignore this touches on intellectual dishonesty and is a disservice to the newbie reader.


Section Four: Raw Passage: Your Journey to Raw Life


Chapter 10: Getting Started


21 pages starting with a pep talk leading to a discussion of transition methods and helpful tips for the aspiring raw vegan. Though Schenck says the best way to transition is to fast and jump in 100%, some folks might go slower: replace cooked meals with raw meals over time, give up more and more “bad foods” over time, and/or keep eating some carefully cooked veggies, etc.


Colonics are good; drugs are bad. Indeed, just before we are informed that only an M.D. can tell you to stop or reduce medicines, she writes, “No drugs, not even insulin, should be taken while fasting as drugs are even more harmful to a fasting body than an eating one. Taking insulin while fasting is likely to send you into diabetic coma.” She knows of some people who have stopped their prescription medications “cold turkey” while on fasts. OK.


The reader is encouraged to read raw books, especially recipe books, and obtain various juicers, grinders, dehydrators, ice cream makers and even a “spiralizer” to make spaghetti-like strips of zucchini and so on. Throw out your pots and pans, but keep your coffemaker: coffee enemas might be in your future.


The chapter ends with specific tips for the raw kitchen. Soak your nuts; keep flaxseed around for crackers; don’t throw away carrot tops; don’t eat unripe fruit.


Chapter 11: What to Expect


13 pages. Expect to lose weight and libido, Expect to gain colds, flu, fever, foul breath, body odor, weakness, insomnia, diarrhea, etc. This is just detoxification and you should be glad of it. Detoxification is temporary, but goes on forever. Victoria “eliminated residues of the DDT her father had sprayed when she was only three” after being raw “ for a significant length of time. Vonderplanitz’s body, after decades raw, “finally felt healthy enough to detoxify a substance a surgeon had used to glue his bone together when he broke his nose at age fifteen”. Once you are sufficiently detoxed you will gain back weight as healthy tissue and be able enjoy sex more than ever, but not in a compulsive, cooked food way.


Colonics are still good. Your colonic therapist will show you photos of “colons with pounds of toxins that look like black tar” and John Wayne is said to have 35-40 pounds of fecal matter in his colon–but that might just be an urban legend. In any case, plaque in your colon is bad.


You should get the toxic chemicals out of your house, too.


Yes, there will tough times socially…

Get some new raw friends!


You will need to be ever-prepared in your travels…

Never leave the house without an emergency snack like dried fruit, nuts, or flaxseed crackers!


One way to deal with restaurants is to have a card printed up stating that you are a raw-food-only-eater and suggesting a salad of various raw vegetables. You can hand this to the waitperson and the chef will likely make you a wonderful salad.


If you can make it without backsliding for long enough, you will enter a “world beyond temptation” and enjoy “paradise health”, including no body odors (except when detoxing still, or making bad food combinations), no phlegm clogging, improved mood, soaring confidence, looser and more frequent bowel movements, and your fear of germs will vanish.


Also, to get back to the colon for a moment, you can look at the clock, eat some beets, watch for red in your poop (no, silly, it’s not _blood_), look again at the clock. Then you can calculate your “transit time”. Cooked food eaters transit time can be up to 100 hours; you should shoot for 18-40 hours.


Chapter 12: Controversial Nutritional Issues


41 page survey of stuff you could sound really, really smart about at a raw cocktail party.


In the “The Ratio of Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins” Schenck quickly moves from the Zone (without even mentioning it actually) into the transposed raging controversy for raw vegans: Do you eat too much fruit? Too much fat? Too much protein?!? Mostly she restates Doug Graham’s argument for lots and lots of fruit–and if that doesn’t work, it’s because the soil is de-mineralized. But it’s best to be balanced.


In “Vegetarianism vs. Meat-Eating” she gives a textbook example of the nonsense passed off as careful thought by evangelical vegans. “Meat is among the most toxic of naturally occurring foods.” OK, I guess there isn’t much need for any reference or elaboration there, eh? Especially since chimps only eat monkeys because their “customary foods are unavailable”. And our digestive track is like a chimp’s and its “relatively long...through which meat would putrefy before leaving” and we have no claws or fangs.


She even quotes a Robert Young: “All the longest-lived and healthiest cultures on the planet are almost exclusively vegetarian...” That would be news to Weston Price, but my favorite line: “As stated earlier, there is a belief that we are biologically primarily frugivores like chimps and apes.” Yes, she stated it earlier: “Many people think humans are vegetarian by nature...”


And then on to how the “China Study” shows eating animals is really, really bad. And slaughterhouses are really, really bad. And animals are raised in cruel conditions and drugged and fed crap. And one guy says vegetation has more life force than dead animals. And Dr. Gabriel Cousens stated in a lecture that Alzheimers is really mad cow disease, and there’s mad fish disease, and mad squirrel disease and there is a cover up going on about it. And “raw plant food simply tastes better!” (author’s italics). Understand that meat is toxic, PLEASE.


Here Schenck loses all respect from me for the wholesale regurgitation of classic vegan lore. She either hasn’t done her homework (hard to do when you read all the raw books quoted in hers) or is intellectually dishonest. I guess it is cozy being a raw vegan “insider”. You don’t have to think critically about anything any more and everyone who is raw vegan is just wonderful and full of light. And, well, “there is a belief that we are...frugivores.” Yes, there is a belief like that. That’s what “some people think”.


I have a quote too, from Paul Goodman, who as far as I know wasn’t a raw vegan, but anyway, I hope it counts: “Even reason can’t defeat unreason.” Some people think that!


OK. Enough rant. Back to this long chapter.




She almost pulls this one off. Almost. She says studies show that vegans are at risk for deficiency and cites examples of specific people having trouble and quotes raw gurus who advise supplementation. She even discusses the idea that maybe “it is neither genetically natural nor healthful to be strictly vegan” alongside the other “schools of thought” like we wash our produce too much and soils are depleted. Solutions include egg yolks mixed into smoothies, raw liver, and supplements. “It appears that perhaps a few people may need, or feel that they need, small amounts of raw animal products...”


She even asked Dr. Gabriel Cousins, who she quotes throughout the book, if the B12 issue means humans aren’t genetically meant to be vegans.


“His reply was that originally we probably were, but when we got kicked out of the Garden of Eden, things changed (perhaps a DNA mutation). Now we are trying to get back to the Garden of Eden; so we should be vegan, especially if practicing yoga.”


Well, I guess that’s all cleared up then! Perhaps instead of trying to return to the Garden of Eden, we might partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It’s fruit, so it’s good, right? But knowledge? No need. (Perhaps a DNA mutation?)




Can you turn on the “youthing gene” by calorie restriction? If so, raw vegan foods would be best.


Food combining ala Uncle Shelby? Good idea.


Are nuts and seeds hard to digest? They probably aren’t raw anyway but you should soak them first.


Is organic food really necessary? It’s a really, really good idea.


GMO’s? Really, really bad.


Irradiation? Really, really bad.


Are high glycemic index foods bad? Raw foods are best and it’s hard to know.


Is hybrid produce bad? Wild plants are better, but at least grow your own heirloom produce.


The acid/alkaline balance? Acid is really, really bad; alkaline is really, really good.


Water drinking? Flouride and chlorine are bad; drink your water in the morning or before eating or not before/after eating; argue about distilled vs. spring water.


Salt? Table salt is bad; Himalayan salt is good.


Eating Foods in Season? This is good for you and the planet.


Supplements and Super Foods? The soil is so depleted that maybe we do need raw cacao, goji berries, royal jelly, bee pollen, spirulina, dehydrated wheatgrass, B12, reservatrol, enzymes, probiotics, angstrom minerals, hormonal DHEA, and cayenne pepper–but maybe not.


How Much Fiber? Lots; flaxseeds can help.


Chapter 13: Common Pitfalls to Avoid


14 pages. Don’t believe it’s raw unless you really, really research it. Detox symptoms will go away eventually–hang in there because you can’t blame the diet for the symptoms. Raw nuts and veggies can be difficult to digest. Men may not want to be so skinny. Prep time for complicated raw recipes is high. You feel chilly all the time. Don’t overeat nuts, seeds, and dehydrated fruit. Don’t eat too much fruit. Brush your teeth because for some unknown reason–probably depleted soils doncha know–raw fooders have dental problems. Eat sufficient protein. Don’t eat too much fat. Don’t succumb to social pressure. Don’t buy too much perishable food. Keep reading raw books to stay inspired. Take your own certifiable raw food everywhere. Eat a lot of raw greens. Avoid air pollution and nasty chemicals. Exercise. Sleep. Sunbathe. Don’t fry your brain with cellphones. And finally, don’t worry; be happy!


Chapter 14: Frequently Asked Questions


41 pages.


Is a raw food diet boring? No.


If we’ve been eating cooked food throughout history, what’s the big deal? We could live longer and better if we don’t cook.


Can’t I just eat cooked foods and take supplements? No.


What if I lose too much weight or muscle strength? It will come back and, if not, green smoothies may help.


Can’t I just go 50-95% raw? You can, but you won’t be as pure.


How do you get enough protein? You don’t need very much protein due to brainwashing, but T.C. Fry might have died because of insufficient protein.


Won’t I miss my comfort foods? Try a delicious, raw, creamy, carob mousse or some dates.


What about my family? Be gentle with them and don’t dump your boyfriend because he won’t eat grass with you.


How can I get my pet to eat raw? Slowly (dog) or all at once (puppy).


Aren’t you hungry all the time? No, I am not hungry.


Why doesn’t my doctor know about the value of raw foods? Corporate America doesn’t allow it.


Don’t you miss something warm? Yes, at first, but no at later times.


Shouldn’t I wait until summer to eat raw? No. Feeling chilly is part of the healing process.


Why does cooked food seem to taste better? It doesn’t.


Doesn’t cooking result in better digestion and allow for absorption of certain nutrients? Cooking is bad for food.


Which cooked foods are the least bad? Steamed or wokked veggies; take some enzymes before eating cooked foods.


If raw food is not available, isn’t it better to eat cooked food than to eat no food? No. Fasting is good.


Isn’t there a danger of bacteria in raw food? No, not if you eat raw foods.


Does this diet cost more money? Yes, but you will save money by not eating out, buying meat or packaged foods.


Can I drink alcohol? Maybe some organic wine, but it is really, really acid.


Can I drink tea or coffee? Coffee, no. Tea, maybe.


Can I eat frozen foods? Freezing is like little bombs going off in your food, except for nuts and raisins.


What do you eat? Smoothies, raw chocolate, salad, and raw soup; now a gallon of green smoothies per day.


Why should I go on this diet if I am young and healthy? You will get old and sick if you don’t.


Can I start this diet while pregnant? Yes; no.


Is it advisable for a lactating mother to go raw? Yes, but the baby might not like your detox flavor.


Is this diet healthy for kids? Yes.



Chapter 15: Raw Pleasure


29 pages of raw recipes.


Who cares?




Appendix A: Killer “Foods” to Avoid


18 pages. Dairy products, wheat, sugar, salt, processed and junk food.


Appendix B: The Drug Story


19 pages. There is a conspiracy to prevent people from being healthy because there is no profit in it.


Appendix C: Radical Branches of the Raw Food Movement


24 pages. Three “branches” are discussed.


First, Victoria Boutenko and her Green Smoothie Diet, whom we met earlier in this review. Didn’t quite get this. Schenck has been describing Boutenko all along the way, but now it’s a “radical” raw foods diet?  It’s not very complicated: Blend a whole bunch of greens into your smoothie according to her secret recipe. Drink lots of it. This will give you lots of fiber and the macro-nutrient profile of a chimp diet.


And now onto the dreaded non-vegan branches of raw foodism. Schenck has researched the issue of meat-eating and doesn’t know for sure whether a few people seem to do better with some raw animal protein. If the drug companies would research this issue we could have it all cleared up. But in the meantime, Schenck is generous enough to include this discussion in an appendix to be complete, even though she is vegan.


Instincto. A tidy 7 page summary of instincto touched up with quotes from the major players. Again, the author is playing the nonjudgmental game and even seems to feel that instincto super-health is beyond raw vegan super-health. No mention of Burger’s pedophilia, Zephyr’s trichinosis, (though it is talked about later without mentioning his name), etc. It sounds like a wonderful diet! Lots of wonderful people quoted!


Aajonus Vonderplanitz. 4 pages. The summary of his regime (lots of raw dairy, raw honey, raw butter and other raw animal foods) is followed by descriptions of encounters with his followers and Aajonus himself (“most remarkable are his clear, radiant eyes...”). And here, finally, we find some counter-information: “...anecdotal reports on the Internet chat groups have stressed that some people have suffered heart disease and even liver problems on a diet of so much animal fat.” Why give every flavor of raw veganism a free ride, only to pick on poor Aajonus? I mean, it’s about time, but this is the kind of critical mention that is completely missing in the over 400 pages preceding it.


She goes on to discuss “issues with raw meat, dairy and eggs”. In other words, you will get sick from germs. People should obtain the highest quality animal foods if they are going to experiment with eating them raw. She tried raw dairy (disaster) and raw meat (good, but she can’t eat salads with it, so forget it). In this section she mentions some problems with instincto (trichinosis, tumor-growth in heavy meat-eaters, etc.). Very welcome indeed.


To her credit, Shenck has experimented with raw animal foods and encourages even the most avid vegan to read up on these diets.


Appendix D: Studies from Scientific Journals


19 studies supporting the idea that bad stuff happens when food is cooked.


Appendix E: Sample Menus for One Week


Who cares?




Schenck’s bibliography is the most exhaustive I have seen, including such winner titles as “the Salt Conspiracy” and “Alkalize or Die”. If you wanna dive into the folklore of the evils of cooking and the medical industry as seen by the mostly self-published crowd, you will need to track down and devour these books. A bunch of recipe books as well. A list of fasting contacts, internet chat groups (not very comprehensive), and shopping contacts finish out the book.


Oh, and I forgot to mention, a list of 44 websites, which somehow forgot to mention this website, And after she worked so hard to come across as comprehensive and expansive about raw foods. Oh well, it’s probably a compliment to exclude beyondveg. ;)


What to think?


The book is propaganda, not a real discussion of pros and cons. Schenck shows some of the negative stuff about the raw diets that include animal foods, and fesses up about B12, but no real discussion of zinc, essential fatty acids, dental problems (remember to brush!), and so on. She goes out of her way to be “positive” about all the personalities involved. I suppose some would consider her “nice” for not mentioning Guy-Claude Burger’s pedophilia, or that the books Nature’s First Law and Genefit Nutrition are near complete plagerizations, or quoting Zephyr and then making the case of trichinosis anonymous. Why bring up all that negativity anyway?


It appears that research about humans as omnivores has no place in a book promoting raw veganism. And in the end, a newbie stumbling onto “The Live Food Factor” is saving some time by not really having to hash through many of the books in the bibliography. My gripe is that Schenck presents the book as a kind of fair and balanced, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Raw Foodism” but pulls so many punches that it ends up being an advertisement for raw veganism. Which, I guess, it what we’d expect.


I currently have a student who, as a sixth-grader, clearly stated that she knows humans should eat meat, but she’s willing to sacrifice her health to a degree because she doesn’t want to eat animal foods. Granted, this is a very bright young lady, but isn’t it about time for the raw vegan advocates to be as smart as a sixth-grader? Isn’t it possible to advocate raw veganism without the medical and food industry-bashing, without the supposed spiritual superiority, without supporting the folks who are guru wannabes and plagiarists, and without saying humans are frugivores and meat is toxic?


You can consider the “spaciness” of a zinc deficiency to be spirituality, or believe that the tingling in your toes is the energy of the universe entering you as opposed to a B12 deficiency. You can convince yourself that losing enamel off your teeth, and then your teeth, means you are becoming less violent. You can measure the loss of menses as a measure of purity. You can even write “remarkable” books about raw veganism where everything everyone ever said has equal truth and validity. You can. But that doesn’t mean it’s true.


It’s more than the “big fish in a little pond” syndrome. The raw evangelists quoted in the book, and Schenck herself, seem to feel that their pond is the only TRUE pond, and all the other bigger fish in the other bigger ponds are against raw vegan life itself. The message seems to be: “Hey, all you other little fishies in those big ignorant ponds! Listen up!!! Come join our pond and avoid those big fishies trying to fool you!”


Unstated: we have big fishies of our own. Stated: Our big fishies are raw vegans and really, really spiritual.


Sooner or later, raw veganism is going to truly grow up. Someone is going to write a Live Food Factor without the charade and the crazy quotes, with some real research about humans as omnivores and how raw vegans can overcome that legacy if they choose to. Drop the stuff about the Garden of Eden, the black goo in the colon, and how the GMO’s will kill us all. At the risk of plagiarizing myself: if rawists want to be respected and heard outside of their cult, they are gonna have to stop acting like a cult. They are going to have to stop acting like they have some special corner on “the Truth” and jump into the bigger ponds.


Schenck does appear to put her best foot forward, but that other foot is still soundly stuck in the black goo.


--Kirt Nieft

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